Collaborative learning for collaborative working? Initial findings from a longitudinal study of health and social care students.
This paper presents the initial findings from a longitudinal quantitative study of two cohorts of students who entered the 10 pre-qualifying programmes of the Faculty of Health and Social Care, University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, UK. The overall aim of the study is to explore students' attitudes to collaborative learning and collaborative working, both before and after qualification. On entry to the faculty, 852 students from all 10 programmes completed the UWE Entry Level Interprofessional Questionnaire, which gathered baseline data concerning their self-assessment of communication and teamwork skills, and their attitudes towards interprofessional learning and interprofessional interaction. Comparative analysis of these data was undertaken in terms of demographic variables such as age (i.e. older or younger than 21 years), experience of higher education, prior work experience and choice of professional programme. The results indicate that most students rated their communication and teamwork skills positively, and were favourably inclined towards interprofessional learning, but held negative opinions about interprofessional interaction. Some student groups differed in their responses to some sections of the questionnaire. Mature students, and those with experience of higher education or of working in health or social care settings, displayed relatively negative opinions about interprofessional interaction; social work and occupational therapy students were particularly negative in their responses, even after adjustment for confounding demographic variables. The paper concludes by considering the implications of the findings for interprofessional educational initiatives and for professional practice.